Researchers Find Promising Target for Antibacterial Agents

Infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, are incredibly difficult to treat. Researchers from the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and University of Maryland have discovered that an enzyme found in many types of bacteria can be used to kill them.

In their research, the scientists studied an enzyme in bacteria called nicotinate mononucleotide adenylytransferase (NadD). Without this enzyme, most types of bacteria are unable to survive. Using this knowledge, the scientists looked for compounds that could inhibit the activities of bacterial NadD but not affect human NadD. They discovered several compounds that inhibited NadD function in both Escherichia coli and Bacillus anthracis (anthrax). The scientists then used protein crystallography to determine the 3-D structure of NadD and its inhibiting compound. The scientists hope these studies will aid in the development of new antibacterial drugs that can over come drug-resistant bacteria.

Results of the scientists’ research was published in the August 27 edition of the journal Chemistry & Biology. Their research was funded in part by a grant provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.